LISBON, PORTUGAL – MAY 24: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid lifts the Champions league trophy during the during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid at Estadio da Luz on May 24, 2014 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

2015-16 UEFA Champions League Group A to D preview

The UEFA Champions League begins Tuesday and that is a sign that the club season is now in high gear. European teams have had a few games and are starting to get into a rhythm and now the biggest club continental tournament in the world is upon us and for the top teams in Europe. Let 32 Flags be your guide through the Champions League group stage by going through group by group to let you know what to look for.

Group A

The Teams

Malmo FF – 1st place in 2014 Swedish Allsvenskan – Currently 5th in the 2015 season
Paris Saint-Germain – 1st place in 2014-15 French Ligue 1 – Currently 1st in the 2015-16 season
Real Madrid – 2nd place in 2014-15 Spanish La Liga – Currently 2nd in the 2015-16 season
Shakhtar Donetsk – 2nd place in 2014-15 Ukrainian Premier League – Currently 2nd in the 2015-16 season

Best player in the group – Cristiano Ronaldo/Real Madrid

Come on, is this really a debate (sorry Zlatan)? But yeah, Cristiano Ronaldo is the best of the group. The man is in a battle with Lionel Messi for most Champions League goals (tied with 77) and needed seven years to pass Raul for most La Liga goals in Real Madrid history whereas Raul needed 17 years. That says it all.

Most important matchup – Zlatan vs. his old team Malmo FF

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to be much of a matchup but this was something that people looked forward to (especially Zlatan) when the draw was conducted. For the first time since leaving, Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets to play against his youth team Malmo and he gets to do it in the Champions League. It’ll surely be a great moment for Zlatan personally.

X-factor – Rafa Benitez/Real Madrid

Rafa Benitez has won the Champions League before but has still been disrespected all over once he became Real Madrid manager. Some think he’s too defensive or has lost it from his Liverpool days or just has never been a talented manager to manage a player like Ronaldo and a team like Real Madrid. Either way, they’re together and everyone is just going to have to deal with it. For this season at least.

Group prediction

1st Real Madrid
2nd PSG
3rd Shakhtar Donetsk
4th Malmo FF


Group B

The Teams

CSKA Moscow – 2nd place in 2014-15 Russian Premier League – Currently 1st in the 2015-16 season
Manchester United – 4th place in 2014-15 English Premier League – Currently 3rd in the 2015-16 season
PSV Eindhoven – 1st place in 2014-15 Dutch Eredivisie – Currently 4th in the 2015-16 season
VfL Wolfsburg – 2nd place in 2014-15 German Bundesliga – Currently 3rd in the 2015-16 season

Best player in the group – David de Gea/Manchester United

Not only is he the best player, he’s the most important player to any of the four teams. It was de Gea who literally saved United in multiple games to get them in the Champions League in the first place. Now that he’s back with the team, looks like things are getting better in Manchester.

Most important matchup – Memphis vs. PSV

Like Zlatan and Malmo, Memphis is also facing his former youth team in PSV. Unlike Zlatan and Malmo, Memphis vs. PSV will be a much closer game. As he’s starting his Manchester United career, Memphis hopes to further cement his legacy.

X-factor(s) – The three teams not named Manchester United

Manchester United will very likely win the group but the other three groups have a legitimate shot at getting 2nd place. It’s going to be a fight between these three teams to see who can grab that 2nd spot. And if anyone can get points from Manchester United, then that’s a great bonus.

Group prediction

1st Manchester United
2nd CSKA Moscow
3rd VfL Wolfsburg
4th PSV Eindhoven


Click Page 2 for Groups C and D

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp